Hello!!! How are you guys? One more week has passed. Wow. Today is the coldest day we've had this whole year. A cold front arrived yesterday, and it has dropped to like 70 degrees... I think. So cold. I slept so good last night! It is pretty hard to sleep well in the heat. Wow, each and every week that passes, I feel that time is speeding up... and I can honestly tell you guys that I am not wanting that to happen. I have come to the point that I love everything about my mission. I love Brasil, the people, the work, the culture, the food, the traditions, the language... EVERYTHING! I love the members who live here. Some of the strongest members that I have met in my life live here, particularly here in Meier. I have never felt so good as I have here in this ward. I hope that my time is prolonged in this area and this ward. The members love the missionaries, and the missionaries love the members. There are so many strong members that help in the work. I thank my Heavenly Father for the opportunity to be here in this ward, and to get to know these members with such faith and love for our Savior Jesus Christ.
So, as you all know, last week was a transfer, and I received word that I would continue here in Meier, Zone Andaraí. I was so happy for this. My new companion is from São Paulo. His name is Elder Medeiros. Everyone was so surprised to hear that he only has 9 months on the mission. Meier is a ward known for the amount of missionaries that end their mission here. He is the youngest missionary that has arrived in this area for quite some time. He is a great companion and we get along really great. He likes music, and has played piano as long as I have. We like many of the same things, and it is really easy to work and stay excited with him around. We are doing great, and I have some good feelings about this transfer. I hope that I can stay at least until June with him. He came from one of the most distant places in our mission, even to the point that he was closer to São Paulo than Rio de Janeiro. The trip was long and tiring, and as he arrived here, we were given a great task from the Area Seventy. All of the wards were given a list of twenty addresses of members that are less-active or that disappeared off the map in the last ten or fifteen years. The Area Seventy wanted this list contacted by Saturday, but our Bishop, being extremely efficient, wanted us to contact everyone by Wednesday. Receiving the list on Tuesday, we set out to visit everyone. We began to notice that many of the addresses were up in the favelas and communities.... very very high up. As we tried to reach some of the addresses, I began to wonder how the missionaries ever were able to baptize someone so high up on the mountain and so far away from the church. We were very, very far from the church. We were able to see all of Rio de Janeiro, for we were truly at the peak of the mountains (almost). Everything turned out well and we were able to contact everyone. Many of these people had no interest to return to church, but we were able to find some others that were humbled and ready to hear our message a second time.
Lately, we have been teaching a man named Alex. He is 34 years old and came to church to get to see what it was like. He has been prepared to receive the Gospel as well. Immediately, he was hugged by the members and made many good friends. He expressed to us how it was so great to have such an environment to learn and live the gospel. He accepted our messages, and we began visiting him and his father. This last Wednesday, he accepted a baptismal date for this coming Saturday, and since then, we have been bringing him to lots of Family Nights, and bringing members to his home to teach with us. It was been amazing. Alex came to church yesterday and a member took him by the arm, inviting everyone to his baptism this Saturday. It will be around 11:00 our time. Pray that everything goes well!
Because of the time, I must end. I love my mission. I wouldn't trade this knowledge and these blessings for anything. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I have no doubt about this. I know that the Book of Mormon helps us draw closer to Heavenly Father, and through prayer, we can know of his truthfulness. I know that prayer is communication with our Heavenly Father. I hope that you all know these things with certainty in your hearts. If you don't, do what is necessary to receive this testimony. I love you all and miss you tons. Have a wonderful vacation, and send me photos of everything!
Elder Steven Bennett